01/03/2010 | 04:09:00

Hang Thiec Street

Hang Thiec Street is a craft street of tinsmiths which has existed for a long time in the Old Quarter. In the past it was in Yen Noi Village, Tien Tuc Commune of Tho Xuong District (present-day Hang Gai Ward of Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi).

Most of the houses in this street are old and have small garrets which make the house look like “overlapping match boxes”. Hang Thiec Street is 136m long, stretching from Thuoc Bac Street to Hang Non Street. It is the place where tinsmiths make different items, such as oil lamps, candle stands, incense burners, tea pots, tea-set trays and tips of conical hats.

After a period of development the craft also turned out other products from sheet metal, hence the street was called Rue des Ferblanties by the French.

Over the years Hang Thiec Street has virtually remained unchanged, with the craft of making tin products still being kept, turning out various kinds of utensils for daily use.

On the occasion of Mid-Autumn Festival the Street is busier because the craftsmen begin to use pieces of tin to make children’s toys, such as cars, trains, ships, planes, peach-shaped lanterns with a fairy inside, butterfly-shaped lanterns and a rabbit beating a drum.

We visited the family of Nguyen Phu Dinh, one of the families still following the craft of their forefathers, on Hang Thiec Street. His two sons have inherited their father’s skills and become artisans with golden hands.

Dinh said that payment for making tin products is low, so people who open shops on Hang Thiec Street are only engaged in trading. They receive orders for the products and have the orders filled by the tinsmiths in the rural areas.

When plastic utensils developed, Dinh and other craftsmen on Hang Thiec Street were concerned that the craft could be lost. Through many ups and downs now there are demands for tin products on the market. We saw many pails, buckets, basins and sinks made of corrugated steel piled in the shops and were told that these products would be supplied to different cities and provinces throughout the country.In the book “Old Streets of Hanoi”, American writer Lady Borton described the sound on Hang Thiec Street: “…

The roaring sounds of hammers striking against the metal resound from early morning to late at night. Vietnamese craftsmen have preserved their traditional craft until today…”

Today coming to Hang Thiec Street, we clearly see that the essential needs and useful household utensils have a good impact on the preservation and development of the long-lasting traditional craft.

Although the number of people who follow their forefathers’ crafts have become fewer and fewer, they have helped maintain the vitality of the craft streets in Hanoi and preserve its old cultural features, creating the typical characteristics of the thousand-year-old Thang Long./.

Vietnam Pictorial

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